Retro Round-up for April 11th

Retro Round-up for April 11th

Written by Cyril Lachel on 4/11/2008 for PS3   Wii   360  

Every week Cyril Lachel comes down from his giant castle in the hills to provide the final word on all of the classic downloadable games and retro compilations. This is the Retro Round-Up, your official guide to the best (and worst) in classic gaming for the Nintendo Virtual Console, Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. Join us as we shed some light on what games are worth your five or ten dollars, and what games you should avoid at all costs. For more information about these games (and retro gaming in general) we invite you to check out Defunct Games. This week we finally have a "classic" game worth talking about, unfortunately I also have to put up with a lot of trash. But let's stay positive here, after weeks of no recommendations, I am finally ready to suggest you buy a game. But what game is it? Could it be the two NES games, Bases Loaded and Yoshi's Cookie? Or what about Ikaruga for the Dreamcast? Maybe it's the Neo Geo game added to GameTap? Find out now when you read another exciting episode of Retro Round-Up.

Bases Loaded
What Is It?
Twenty years ago there were a lot of reasons to love Bases Loaded. Not only was it one of the best looking sports games of the era (far surpassing R.B.I. Baseball, Nintendo's own Baseball game and the rest of the competition), but it also managed to get the feel of baseball right, something that no other title was able to do at that point. But this is not 1989 and Bases Loaded is not the greatest baseball simulator on the planet. In fact, Bases Loaded isn't even the best baseball game on the Virtual Console. It's hard to ignore twenty years of improvements; what was the best of the best twenty years ago just doesn't cut it by today's standards. The good news is that this still plays a solid game of baseball, unfortunately that's pretty much all it does. Like most 8-bit sports games you can't expect too much in the way of single-player content and extra modes. It can be fun with a friend, but the only way you're going to enjoy this game is if you remember it from back in the day. If you and you want to relive some twenty year old memories then have at it, the game is only five dollars and you shouldn't have too much trouble enjoying yourself for a short amount of time. But if you're going into Bases Loaded thinking that it's going to hold up as well as Tecmo Bowl, then you, my friend, are in for a world of disappointment.

Does It Hold Up?
What did I just say? Bases Loaded doesn't hold up, especially when compared to some of the good old school sports titles (Tecmo Bowl, etc.). Part of the problem is in the controls, what worked twenty years ago just isn't up to the task today. The actual gameplay is extremely basic, almost to the point of missing out on some important aspects of baseball. What's more, the whole experience just feels slow and boring ... even slower and more boring than today's baseball simulators (believe it or not). All in all, this game does not hold up well.

Is It Worth The Money?
Definitely not. Some old school Bases Loaded fans may get a kick out of it, but I can't see them going back to it after the first day. Bases Loaded may have been one of the greatest sports games of the 1980s, but that doesn't mean that it's fun twenty years later. Sports games are already notorious for not holding up, but this game proves that statement conclusively. I hate to say it, but Bases Loaded isn't worth your five dollars.

Yoshi's Cookie
What Is It?
Wait a second, haven't we been here before? I could have sworn that we already had a late-generation 8-bit NES puzzle game starring Mario's dinosaur buddy, Yoshi. Oh wait ... we did! It was a Virtual Console launch game called Yoshi. So, what is this? This is Yoshi's Cookie, a puzzle game that came out so late into the NES's life cycle that it almost had to compete with the PlayStation. History lesson aside, Yoshi's Cookie is another Tetris knock-off, only this time around you're matching different types of cookies for a high score. This isn't a bad game, but playing through this game again I realized how little sense this game makes. For example, why is this game called Yoshi's Cookie when Mario is the main guy and you barely ever see Yoshi? And really, what do cookies have to do with Yoshi? I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't Yoshi eat fruit? It really doesn't make any sense. And really, the story elements wouldn't matter if the game was good, but this just isn't a strong effort on the part of Nintendo. Puzzle fans may find something to enjoy here, but I just didn't connect with this one.

Does It Hold Up?
Yoshi's Cookie is bright and colorful, but it's not much fun. While it does share some elements of Tetris, Yoshi's Cookie has a slightly different flavor that isn't entirely unpleasant. The problem is, it's not all that much fun, either. Regardless of what I think, Yoshi's Cookie does have solid controls and if you like it chances are you'll be playing it non-stop until the next puzzler shows up. But if you aren't a fan, then no amount of colorful 8-bit graphics is going to change your mind.

Is It Worth The Money?
This is one of those games that really needs a free demo. I can imagine that there will be just as many people that love this game as there are that hate it. I personally didn't get into it, but that's not to say that they weren't trying interesting things that other's may enjoy. Nintendo knows how to develop puzzle games and this is definitely a competent puzzler, but don't expect this to be on par with some of the other 8-bit puzzle games released on the Virtual Console.
Ikaruga
What Is It?
Originally released in 2001, Ikaruga is not a retro release, so including it on this page is already a little suspect. However, this fantastic Treasure game has gone through more turmoil in the last seven years than most old school titles do in two decades. Treasure originally released this game in the arcades, but Ikaruga quickly found a home on the Dreamcast. Unfortunately it was released at a time when Sega was pulling out of the hardware market, so this 2D shooter was never actually released on the Dreamcast here in the U.S. Thankfully gamers on this side of the pond were able to experience Ikaruga when it was released on the GameCube. Fast forward five years and Xbox 360 owners are finally able to play this overhead shooter. And not only are they given a solid port of the arcade/Dreamcast/GameCube game, but they get it for a low, low $10.

If you've somehow missed Ikaruga on the other systems, it plays a lot like all of the other overhead 2D shooters you've played. What sets this game apart from all of the other shoot-em-ups crowding the Xbox Live Arcade is the black and white gimmick. The concept is simple enough; enemies will fire two different colored bullets, one that is white and one that is black. Your ship can also change from black to white, thus allowing you to literally absorb the same colored bullets (black ship absorbs black bullets, white ship absorbs white bullets). The game uses this gimmick from beginning to end, which really adds a lot of character to what could have otherwise been just another overhead shooter. Add in better looking graphics, downloadable videos and achievements and you have the best version of Ikaruga yet.

Does It Hold Up?
Ikaruga is a masterpiece, from beginning to end. It may only be five levels, but getting through those stages is going to take a lot of work. The controls are fantastic, the graphics look great on an HDTV and there's enough replay to get your money's worth. Ikaruga is a fantastic game with an interesting gimmick, of course it holds up.

Is It Worth The Money?
If you somehow missed it on both the Dreamcast and the GameCube then by all means you need to pick this game up. The good news is that this game is still as fresh and exciting as it was seven years ago; the even better news is that it's only ten dollars. I would argue that this game is still worth the full $50, but I'm certainly not going to complain about a $10 price tag. Ikaruga is one of the best shooters of all time, the type of game that may rekindle your love for the genre.


This Week in GameTap
Every week I plan on taking a look at the classic games being uploaded on the GameTap service. Regardless of whether it's part of their free or premium service, GameTap offers a wide variety of old school games that is worth checking out. Here are the most recent games uploaded to their server, keep in mind that all of these games are free to play unless otherwise stated:

King of Monsters 2 (Neo Geo) -
Like Rampage, its obvious inspiration, King of Monsters 2 is a multiplayer "action" game that has you taking control of a huge Godzilla-like monster trampling cities and fighting other humungous men-in-rubber-suit bad guys. Like Rampage, King of Monsters 2 is a lot of fun at first, but this is one title that quickly wears thin. This game is plagued by a complete lack of variety; you just do the same thing over and over and call it fun. It's fun, but only for about fifteen minutes.

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.


About Author

It's questionable how accurate this is, but this is all that's known about Cyril Lachel: A struggling writer by trade, Cyril has been living off a diet of bad games, and a highly suspect amount of propaganda. Highly cynical, Cyril has taken to question what companies say and do, falling ever further into a form of delusional madness. With the help of quality games, and some greener pastures on the horizon, this back-to-basics newsman has returned to provide news so early in the morning that only insomniacs are awake.
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